Ahava made a guest appearance last week on Ian Altman’s podcast “Grow My Revenue Business Cast.” During the episode, they uncovered the common mistakes businesses make when developing their content strategies, why it’s important to have a designated person leading the charge, and the number one thing to consider when creating content for your organization.
Here are a few of the episode highlights:
Ian Altman: What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see that businesses make when it comes to their content strategy or lack thereof?
Ahava Leibtag: The first mistake that I see people make over and over again is that they do not define their audiences well. That means that they really must get down into the specifics of what people are looking for, why they’re coming to them, why they want to learn about their products and services, how they can answer them in the fastest way possible and be efficient with their time.
The second mistake, I think may surprise you, is that internally in companies nobody is appointed to be in charge of content. There isn’t a chief content officer or a VP of marketing who has that underneath his or her role, that reports up to somebody who then reviews them annually on how content is performing. It’s one of these things that just completely gets overlooked by everybody in the company until one day they really need something, or they can’t find something, or they don’t know what they’re doing and then, all of a sudden, there’s nobody responsible. It’s too amorphous. It belongs to too many groups. Those are the mistakes that we see over and over again.
Ian Altman: When you’re in a situation where there isn’t someone in that role, when there isn’t a chief content officer, what happens? What does that lead to when organizations don’t have somebody in that role?
Ahava Leibtag: It depends on the size of the organization, but mostly what we see is inconsistent content and then duplicate content. The main problem that we see is that you just end up completely confusing your audience because no one person or group of people, (this can also be run by committee,) is responsible for delivering a consistent, coherent content product. Inconsistent content creates mistrust. You know what it’s like? I always compare it to the bipolar 9th grade friend you made when you’re a freshman. That person, you ate lunch with them on Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesday they don’t want to be friends with you anymore because they found a cooler kid. Then next week they came back to you because they realized that cool crowd wasn’t going to accept you. That’s what inconsistent content does to you. It just makes you feel like you’re getting whiplashed, and people don’t want to deal with companies where they don’t feel like they can trust them.
Ian Altman: How should an organization go about defining their audience to attract the right people to their content?
Ahava Leibtag: That’s a really great question. It’s a really great topic and it’s very, very deep, but here’s what I would say right off the bat. The first thing is that the company needs to look at what their business objectives are, and they have to be very clear to the people who are responsible for content about what they’re trying to do so that they can clearly define their audiences. When we come into organizations and we consult with them and we look at what’s happening with their content, very often is that the executives have not communicated clearly to the content teams what exactly it is that they’re trying to do or, worse, content has become politicized, and then nobody is getting clear information because there’s a turf war. That’s the first thing that needs to happen is that business objectives need to be highlighted.
The second way that you can get to know your customers is by all the stuff that we all know: focus groups, and surveys, and market research, and data, and usability testing and all that.
The third way to get to know your audience, and I think is really one of the most effective ways, is to look at user generated content around your topic, so looking at message boards, looking at social media, looking at what people are talking about, going to conferences and hearing what people’s concerns are. I think immersing yourself in your audience is the best way to get to know them and to understand their pain points.
Ian Altman: Should people be focusing more on describing their solutions or describing the problems that their customers face?
Ahava Leibtag: The second. Absolutely. Nobody cares about you. Nobody cares about your brand. Nobody cares about your product until it matters to them, until they need it. Then they start paying attention like you wouldn’t believe. You have to understand what their problems are and what they’re trying to solve before you can even sit down and think about what your content should look like.
Another major problem that we see is that because executives don’t understand this, they get content and then they edit it or ask it to be rewritten because it doesn’t talk about the brand enough. But people don’t care about the brand. That’s not the perspective they’re interested in hearing. What they’re interested in hearing is what are you going to do for me?
Ian Altman: If you had one piece of advice to give to people to put themselves on the right footing for a content strategy and a content marketing strategy going forward, what would you tell them to do?
Ahava Leibtag: I would tell them to go spend time with their audiences and to be smart about making business decisions. I’ll leave you with a story from a friend of mine. She did a very large engagement with a pet food company. The business objective was to get more new customers to buy their pet food, to encourage customers to let their pets taste the food and then to buy more food. She said to them, “Well, how do you get your most first-time customers now?” They said to her, “The number one successful thing that we do is that we send out free samples.” She said, “Okay, great.” The executives said to her, “But, we want to start a blog about why our pet food is so great.” She said, “Come on, people.”
I think that that’s a perfect example of what’s the number one thing you can do? The number one thing you can do is figure out who your audience is. If your audience is going to switch cat food brands because you sent them a free sample, spend your money on sending out free samples. Don’t spend your money writing a blog that nobody except like the crazy cat lady is going to read. That’s the number one tip I would give.
Want to hear more about this episode? Listen to the full podcast.